Social anxiety can be a silent symptom of psoriatic arthritis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, those living with psoriasis have a 31 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with anxiety than those without the disease. Those with both psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis suffer even higher rates of anxiety and depression than those with only psoriasis.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder is more than just shyness according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Social anxiety, also called social phobia, is a mental health condition that involves the intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. If you have social anxiety, you may experience fear when meeting new people, dating, or doing everyday tasks in front of others, like talking to a cashier.
What factors contribute to social anxiety?
You might think that the severity of your skin symptoms would be the predictor of social anxiety. However, it is not that straightforward. In at least one study, impairment in quality of life, disease severity, feelings of helplessness, and perceived social support were predictors of social fear and avoidance. Considering that environmental and biological factors always play a role in our health status, there may not always be a known set of factors that can determine who will have social anxiety and who will not.
What can you do about social anxiety?
1. Talk to your doctor about what you are feeling.
Your rheumatologist or dermatologist will be well aware of the correlation between anxiety issues and psoriatic arthritis. He or she can recommend treatment options that may include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Your doctor can also help you feel more at ease about your condition. Treatments for psoriatic disease are constantly evolving, and you may be surprised at the available treatment options that your doctor has not yet explored with you.
2. Make sure you are staying as physically active as possible.
Exercise can help mental and physical health issues. We know exercise is particularly important if you have psoriatic disease. Exercising with friends or in a group can also keep you feeling more connected and less isolated.
3. Reduce your stress as much as possible.
Stress and psoriatic arthritis are interconnected. While your stress may not be the cause of your psoriatic arthritis, it can act as a trigger and worsen your disease. There are so many things in our day-to-day lives that can put extra stress on us. Using tools such as breathing techniques, long walks with friends, and planned breaks can be helpful to your mental and physical health.